Copyright Kent Past 2010
The History of Kent
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History of Leeds
Leeds probably comes from the Old English 'hlyde' meaning a 'noisy stream, loud one';
therefore, ‘the loud one’ -
Leeds parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The Saxons built the first wooden church around 1000. In the 11th century, the Normans rebuilt it in stone. From simple beginnings, it grew over the next 500 years with the addition of the west tower, nave – with north and south aisles – south porch and chancel – with north and south chapels. Following the reformation, Leeds abbey -
Robert de Crevecoeur founded the priory of St. Mary and St. Nicholas in 1119. It
survived, for more than 400 years, before surrendering to the crown, and eventually
becoming a ruin.
In 857AD, King Athelbert’s adviser, Ledian, built Leeds Castle in wood, following instructions from his sovereign to construct a fortress. In 1119, Robert de Crevecoeur rebuilt it in stone. This became the home of the Crevecoeur family for the next 150 years. During the Barons' Wars between Simon de Montfort and Henry III, the Crevecoeurs backed the barons, and following de Montfort’s defeat, King Henry seized the castle.
Eleanor of Castile, the wife of Edward I, fell in love with the castle's magical surroundings, and in 1278, persuaded the king to grant it to her. Edward readily agreed, and she lovingly expanded it into a magnificent royal residence.
Leeds Castle remained a royal residence for many centuries and also served briefly as a prison for the unfortunate Richard II, before his final incarceration at Pontefract Castle. After this time, it gained a reputation as the home of many a dowager queen. The widowed wife of Henry V, Catherine de Valois, stayed there before eloping with her future second husband, Owen Tudor.
Throughout the early Tudor period, Leeds became ever-
In 1552, the castle passed out of royal hands to Sir Anthony St Leger, the Lord Deputy of Ireland. The Smyth family acquired the castle on Sir Anthony's death and set about building another house on a nearby island, in which they lived. This they sold to the Culpeper family in 1632 as the English Civil War loomed. The 1st Lord Culpeper had responsibility for conducting the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, to safety in exile, for which he later received considerable favour from the king. Despite this Royalist loyalty, the Culpepers sided with the parliamentarians throughout the war permitting
The last private owner of the castle -